I’m not a great pool player, but back in winter 02 I spent a lot of time playing and decided to enter my first nine-ball tournament. I won the first game by a hair, but my second opponent, a rail-thin kid with bad teeth and an Earnhardt t-shirt, taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.
The kid made nothing on his break. I made the one ball then missed the two because I gave myself no leave. He proceeded to sink the eight remaining balls without giving me another shot.
Afterwards, I congratulated him on his victory and asked him if he had any tips. He said (and I’m paraphrasing): “you got to plan ahead for the next few shots. Where your cue ball goes after you sink a shot is almost as important as making the shot in the first place.”
I nodded, took his advice to heart, and over the next month watched my game improve. I had just received a valuable lesson on the benefits of being proactive. A few insights:
- The proactive player sets him/herself up not only for the shot in front of them, but for the next four or five shots.
- The reactive player focuses all their effort trying to sink the shot in front of them; they’re so worried about their tactics that they completely ignore giving themselves a strategic leave position.
- The reactive player asks themselves “what do I have to do today?” or “what am I being forced to do today?”
- The proactive player asks themselves “what will I do today?”
- The reactive player says “how can I make this work?”
- The proactive player says “how can I make this work for me and the people around me and leave me in a good position for my next five moves?”
Being proactive is a matter of taking responsibility for your life. Dr. Stephen Covey thinks it’s so important that he names it the first among seven habits of highly successful people.
Here’s a great webcomic from Stephen McCranie on being proactive rather than reactive. Choice quotes:
When you procrastinate you become a slave to yesterday. But when you are proactive, it’s as if yesterday becomes your secret ally.
And everyone needs a secret ally.
On to the links!
- The trouble with bright kids, according to this article the Harvard Business Review, is that teachers and parents tell them they’re bright, and that makes them lazy. (Great insight into why otherwise intelligent people give up too early on challenging endeavors).
- We’re all stressed. Here’s a useful (and printable) image link that tells you 50 ways to cope with stress. (Original source unknown)
- Here’s a cool mind map entitled ‘How to Focus.’